Cardboard is the largest component
Cardboard is the single largest component of municipal solid waste that businesses produce every year. Even with the huge increases in recycling efforts over the past few decades, the amount of cardboard disposed as municipal solid waste is still staggering. Just a small segment of the commercial markets like those that contain shipping operations within their facilities (such as supermarkets and department stores) generate nearly 30 million tons of cardboard yearly which ends up as municipal solid waste. However, the progression of commercial establishments that have commenced their own cardboard recycling programs has increased rapidly as a result of feasibility, publicity and other benefits. It has proven quite feasible for small, medium and large commercial establishments to commence their own cardboard recycling programs, while also implementing the services of a recycler to pick up the processed cardboard.
Sixty-five percent is the percentage of cardboard that the EPA estimates is recycled each year. Of course this number will continue to increase as more and more recycling programs continue to be implemented in businesses where cardboard is frequently disposed of. Businesses that process and recycle cardboard can also reap monetary advantages since the recycled cardboard market remains very strong. The high per-ton prices for cardboard means that the benefits of implementing a cardboard recycling program are usually straight forward.
Main Benefits of Cardboard Recycling:
Cardboard Recycling can produce big savings in waste hauling costs (By removing the cardboard from the waste stream the waste volume is reduced accordingly).
Cardboard Recycling can create income from the recycled cardboard that is sold to the recycler.
Cardboard Recycling can help cut waste disposal labor requirements that are typically necessary due to flattening and handling of cardboard.
Cardboard Recycling can help waste processing operations with streamlining benefits and better productivity.
Cardboard Recycling can help reduce problems associated with the temporary storage of cardboard, including fire hazards and loss of workspace.
Cardboard Recycling can help improve overall cleanliness and safety in the workplace.
Cardboard Recycling is advantageous is most cases
Typically, the trick is getting started. When evaluating a cardboard recycling program there are many considerations, but of course the primary consideration is to understand the advantages that apply to your business by not only removing the cardboard from your waste stream (and thus reducing hauler and landfill fees) but also the revenues that can be generated from the sale of your recycled cardboard. In addition, you should also consider how you are improving the environmental friendliness of your facility. You then need to evaluate and answer a few basic questions:
What sizes, quantity and quality of cardboard is disposed of at your facility?
Can your business collect and bale the cardboard in a manner that is not disruptive to your existing business operations?
Volume of Cardboard will determine the best path
Depending upon the amount of cardboard that ends up in the trash, your business may need to consider changing its waste processing routines to accommodate an effective recycling program. A common practice businesses utilize is to implement a cardboard baler to bale the cardboard into dense bales that are easy to handle and haul. Baling is simply a method of using a machine that compacts and allows for the compacted bale of cardboard to be bound by wires or twine, which also makes the cardboard easier to store until hauling. One particular reason why baling your cardboard is economically wise, is because a ton of baled cardboard will sell at a much higher rate than loose cardboard, not to mention the storage issues and other problems associated with loose cardboard. Even for businesses that don't produce a large volume of cardboard trash, by removing it from the waste stream and making it easier to store and haul, you can oftentimes get a recycler to pick it up for free (which means your waste hauling charges are reduced accordingly). Regardless of the cardboard sizes that you discard there are many types and sizes of balers to fit almost every need. The most common type of balers are the Vertical Balers, and for extremely high volume situations there are also Horizontal Balers, which can be highly automated (at a much higher cost and with much higher space requirements).
Baler Size depends on volume and box sizes
When determining the appropriate baler size for your business, you’ll want to measure the space in which you want to place your baler. You also want to take into consideration the size of the cardboard that will be placed inside. You do not want your baler to be too small for the cardboard that needs to be baled. An improperly sized baler could mean that employees have to spend too much time bending or preparing the cardboard for baling. You also want to take into consideration the size of the bales you want to produce. Of course, small balers will produce small bales and large balers will produce large bales, but depending on the manpower available in your business, you may want to consider how many people it will take (or will be available) to produce the bales. Many different sizes of bales can be produced and the task is actually not all that complicated. The task involves the steps of compacting, then strapping, and then using the ejection function of the baler to eject the bale onto something movable such as a pallet (moved with a pallet jack or forklift, or even a cart depending upon the bale size). In instances where extremely large bales are produced, it may be a good idea to have at least two people creating the bale for safety reasons.
Large Variety of Cardboard Balers
You will also want to ensure that your baler is sufficient enough to handle the volume of cardboard your business consumes. If the cardboard sizes and quantities in your business are small, then perhaps a 30” Vertical Baler or 42" Vertical Baler would be appropriate. (Of course, the baler size is an indication of the size bale that is produced.). Oftentimes, the smaller vertical balers can also be purchased on casters so that they can be moved around within the facility fairly easily, (which is not the case with larger balers). These smaller balers typically exist in hospitals, drug stores, restaurants, offices, retirement homes, convenience stores, hotels, and many other different establishments. If your your business generates a small amount of cardboard and you want to allow for some growth, you may want to consider a 48" Vertical Baler. And, if your business is going to produce much larger volumes of cardboard, then a very common size baler is a 60" Vertical Baler or possibly a 72" Vertical Baler. For really unique situations, vertical baler sizes can even extend to an 84" Vertical Baler. These very large balers are oftentimes utilized in warehouses, department stores, manufacturing facilities, recycling centers, transfer stations, military bases, and other large commercial and industrial applications. The vertical baler sizes generally range from around 24" to 84”, which means that there is a large variety for meeting the particular needs of each business. In addition to sizes, there are also options, features and variations to choose from such as a High Density Cardboard Baler versus a Standard Cardboard Baler.
Summary - Even no money from cardboard may be profitable
In summary, when you are considering which avenue to take with a cardboard recycling program, keep in mind the overall monetary advantages (net gain), the ease of collecting or disposing of your cardboard, and the environmental compliance of your business. Regardless of the cardboard baler, there will be some minor operational costs that will result, such as electrical consumption and consumables (baling wire), however with the right baler selection these associated costs will be minor relative to the amount of cardboard being baled and the resulting benefits. One of the main factors that should not be overlooked is that a large amount of trash (cardboard) will be removed from your waste stream which will mean a reduction in waste hauling and disposal requirements (regardless of the revenues that are generated from the sale of baled cardboard). You may also find that making the decision to implement a cardboard baler will not only benefit the business, but will also add to the overall productivity of your employees by having an effective method of cardboard disposal. By reducing the handling of cardboard that is treated as trash disposed of in your dumpster or trash compactor, you are also reducing the costs associated with garbage disposal and the amount of time your employees spend tending to trash. And, for those who are discarding large amounts of cardboard and need another alternative besides a Cardboard baler (maybe due to ceiling heights etc) it may be more practical to implement a Cardboard Compactor such as a Stationary Compactor. Whether purchased, leased or rented, the implementation of a Cardboard Baler or Cardboard Compactor in the right circumstances can be a win-win for everyone, both inside and outside your business. Usually, it is just a matter of taking the initiative to get started and with the amount of resources available for cardboard recycling, it should be fairly easy.
Contributor / Editor - Matt Kennedy - Refer questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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